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Fixing RMA Next Priority

22 June 2006

Fixing RMA Next Priority

Improving the Resource Management Act is the next big priority for Federated Farmers of New Zealand, said Bruce McNab, the Federation's RMA spokesman.

“Last night the Federation won a partial victory for dog owners. We work for rural New Zealand so will take it as a win. That said, the Federation will continue efforts to throw out microchipping all together for the benefit of all dog owners.

“This success against the odds shows the strength of Federated Farmers and its members – working hard at the grass roots and combining their expert knowledge with our staff to achieve real outcomes for the rural community,” Mr McNab said.

“Next, the Federation has a much harder job – fixing the Resource Management Act.

"The Federation wants to deliver quantifiable benefits to members by getting councils and the government to realise that the RMA is a huge cost on rural New Zealand. This is an ambitious strategic goal and will take time," he said.

“A lot of people say that seeking changes to the RMA is a waste of time, as the government will not listen. Federation members have heard this before. It will not dissuade them from taking up this important challenge.

"Given the importance of primary production to the New Zealand economy, it is vital that the RMA is implemented in a way that delivers on its original intent and allows farmers to get on with the business of sustainable management of their land,"Mr McNab said.

To date the Federation has identified a number of concerns with the RMA:

- The RMA must be amended so that landowners can seek compensation for costs imposed on them to protect significant natural areas, heritage sites, and landscapes in the wider public interest. The Public Works Act recognises the need for compensation, so should the RMA.

- The Department of Conservation should not have the dual role of advisor and advocate for conservation values on private land.

- District plan objectives, policies, methods and rules must be practical, based on sound science and subject to robust cost-benefit analysis.

- The Federation opposes national policy standards that impose a 'one size fits all' approach and fail to recognise the value of local knowledge and community agreed objectives.

- Councils are not meeting statutory deadlines when processing consents.

- Regional and district plans continue to try and manage activities and not effects. This leads to an overly prescriptive approach where councils seek to micro manage farming activities by rules that are poorly written or based on little or no knowledge of the effects caused by the farming activities they seek to manage.

- There is growing concern about the implications of giving public access over private land where it impacts on resource consent applications, because then private land is then deemed a public place.

"The RMA planning and consent process is a time and money 'black hole' for farmers. For example, the cost of getting a resource consent to build a dam for stock watering can exceed the cost of actually building the dam. There are real costs associated with land use restrictions on common farming activities such as planting shelter belts, developing farm tracks and fencelines, laying culverts and new farm buildings," said Mr McNab.

“We call on all political parties to truly engage with our members and recognise the sense in improving the RMA and its processes. The Federation will work positively with all political parties and councils to bring about improvements.

“Environment Minister David Benson-Pope has demonstrated he is willing to listen. That constructive dialogue will continue,” Mr McNab said.


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